By Jeff Sanford
Newport Beach, California -- June 12, 2017 -- The latest Guild 21 conference call suffered some technical glitches, but still managed to provided much-needed direction around an issue more important than ever—the proper recalibration of the new driver assist functions that are rapidly becoming standard issue on the most basic vehicles.
The special guest was Agustin Diaz, Collision Training Administrator for Toyota Motor Sales, US, discussing best practices for collision repairers when it comes to driver assist technology.
Today, of course, cars are laden with new sensors and radar devices. Diaz points to the latest Toyota and Lexus vehicles as a perfect example of the sophistication needed in today’s collision industry.
Toyota vehicles now offer pedestrian detection systems (PD), dynamic radar cruise control, millimetre wave radar sensors, laser radar sensors, lane departure alert (LDA) with steering assist, auto high beams (AHB), blind spot monitor sensor and a rear cross-traffic alert (RCTA). Diaz outlined precautions and procedures for collision repair when it comes to all these sensors and systems: careful vehicle alignment, plumb bobs to get devices situated correctly and careful use of finishes.
According to Diaz, the starting point for any recalibration job is a proper four wheel alignment. Camera monitors are often focused in the centre line and so the car needs to be perfectly aligned to make sure those cameras are working correctly.
Diaz notes that for a proper alignment it's important to move the vehicle to a level surface. Make sure the engine oil and coolant is at the specified level. The fuel tank should be filled and the usual spare tire and standard tools onboard. Make sure there are no people or extra loads in the vehicle when the wheel alignments are performed.
Another new tech on Toyotas is “constant speed mode” that holds the car in relative position to other vehicles. Obviously factors like orientation and angle are important to getting functions like this to work right. Front bumper reinforcements need to be correctly adjusted. One way to do this is to position the car three metres back from a painted wall to make sure headlamps and the spacing sensor are properly oriented.
“You have to identify the centre line of the vehicle. Wrap a string around a plumb line and use string to find out those points are,” says Diaz.
Diaz made it clear that tolerances are very strict when dealing with these systems. The Toyota lane departure alert system uses a camera at the top of the windshield that must have the correct orientation and angle. The blind spot monitor, naturally, has to be aligned so that it captures the blind spot, eight feet to the side of the car and extending eight feet behind the repair bumper. Plumb bobs and protractors must be used to get the angles just right.
“That has to be adjusted so that it covers the right area behind the car,” says Diaz. “The degree of the bracket has to be just right. You need to aim it properly.”
When it comes to paint, be careful there is not too much on the sensors. “Whatever material is put over it has to be a uniform thickness. If a car has been repainted before, you cannot have thick material in there. If you cannot avoid the irradiation area, do not load it on. Uniform thickness is important,” says Diaz. “Keep plastic repair filler away from irradiation area. It’s okay if it can be repaired using primer surface and paint.”
When it comes to repairing these vehicles, the message couldn’t be clearer: follow the OEM procedures. "Engage the guides,” says Diaz. “That is how the manual wants you to do it. You have to do this ...and charge the insurance company. Send it all in one bill.”
In addition to various driver assist systems, Diaz also discussed vehicle construction, including the use of aluminum hoods and decks, carbon fibre fixed to metal, and the case of a cast aluminum tower riveted to high-strength steel. “If the frame is bent you have to replace the whole assembly. We don't sell the tower by itself. Never, ever try to repair it with glue. This is a strut tower that is riveted to a steel rail. The thermal expansion on different metals occurs at different rates. It's safer if you replace the whole thing,” says Diaz.
Diaz indicated during the call that Toyota is preparing to offer a class to cover the repairs on these new technologies.
For more information, please visit techinfo.toyota.com.